Fox News attempted to manufacture another attack on President Obama's Affordable Care Act by hyping a GOP plan to force government employees off their current coverage and onto exchange plans. As IRS official Daniel Werfel explained, however, the exchanges were meant to provide access for the uninsured, not to replace existing employer coverage
On the August 2 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy reported on acting IRS commissioner Daniel Werfel stating his preference that IRS employees be permitted to keep their current coverage after GOP Representative Dave Camp (MI) introduced a bill that would require federal workers to obtain coverage through the Affordable Care Act's health care exchanges. Doocy asked, "How ironic is that? The agency that is charged with enforcing Obamacare doesn't want Obamacare." Co-host Brian Kilmeade went on to attack the law, concluding, "the guy in charge of enforcing Obamacare for those who refuse to get it, well he's not getting it. It's incredibly embarrassing":
But Werfel's statement is not a reflection on the merits of the law, or the coverage options under the exchanges. As Werfel explained to the House Ways and Means Committee, his preference to keep IRS employees under their current plans was to avoid an unnecessary shift when the current system is working:
WERFEL: I don't want to speak for the NTEU, but I'll offer a perspective as a federal employee myself and a federal employee at the IRS. And that is we have right now as employees of the government or the IRS affordable health care coverage. I think the ACA was designed to provide an option or an alternative for individuals that do not. And all else being equal, I think if you're an individual who is satisfied with your health care coverage, you're probably in a better position to stick with that coverage than go through the change of moving into a different environment and going through that process. so I think for a federal employee, I think more likely, and I would -- can speak for myself, I would prefer to stay with the current policy that I'm pleased with rather than go through a change if I don't need to go through that change.
As The Washington Post pointed out, the insurance exchanges were created to provide coverage "for people whose employers do not provide coverage." The Post quoted National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley who noted that Camp's bill not only ignores the purpose of the exchanges, but would unnecessarily single out IRS employees:
The National Treasury Employees Union also spoke out against the bill. "The primary purpose of enacting the Affordable Care Act was to provide a marketplace for the sale and purchase of health insurance for those who do not have such coverage -- not to take coverage away from employees who already receive it through their employers," said NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley. "This legislation would put federal employees in a special class and prohibit them from receiving health insurance from their employer."